Churchill Brothers 3 (Wolfe 16, Raju 26, Balwant 90+1)
Home United 1 (Qiu Li 10)
Churchill Brothers: Lalit Thapa; Satish Singh, Dharmaraj Ravanan, Sanjay Balmuchu, Raju Yumnam (Balwant Singh 46); Saran Singh, Asley Fernandes, Abedlhamid Shabana (Micky Fernandes 86), Jaison Vales; Anthony Wolfe (Richard Costa 75), Cristian Lagos
Home United: Shahril Jantan; Sevki Sha’ban, Precious Emuejeraye, Ismail Yunos, Sirina Camara, Juma’at Jantan; Izzdin Shafiq, Fazli Ayob (Bruno Castanheira 46), Lee Kwan-Woo; Qiu Li, Ahmed Fahmie (Syahiran Miswan 86)
Churchill Brothers came from behind to beat Singapore’s Home United 3-1 in an AFC Cup Group E encounter at the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Margao, Goa on Tuesday evening.
Qiu Li put the visitors in front early on but goals from Anthony Wolfe and Raju Yumnam gave the hosts a halftime lead. Substitute Balwant Singh sealed the points with a strike in second half stoppage time.
India internationals Balwant and Denzil Franco were only named on the bench with Costa Rican Cristian Lagos partnering Wolfe upfront while young Satish Singh started at right back. Suspended Lenny Rodrigues was replaced by Asley Fernandes in central midfield alongside Abdelhamid Shabana.
Home United coach Lee Lim-Saeng could name only four substitutes with Brazilian-Japanese forward Bruno Castanheira also among them while Ahmed Fahmie started upfront and South Korean Lee Kwan-Woo operated as the playmaker.
Churchill Brothers had never lost an AFC Cup fixture in Goa and they made a very positive start with Wolfe going close early on. Minutes later, the Trinidad & Tobago striker was put clean through on goal by Shabana but he failed to hit the target.
The visitors quickly regrouped and scored from their first meaningful move as Li played a nice one-two with Fahmie before finding the back of the net with a powerful shot from outside the box.
The Singapore outfit had a good spell of possession after their goal but Churchill soon found their equaliser as Saran Singh’s deep cross was headed home by Wolfe at the far post.
Wolfe’s goal swung the momentum back in favour of the home side as they started dominating possession and Raju produced a fine save off Shahril Jantan after a nice overlapping run.
Churchill also had a goal disallowed when Wolfe headed Saran’s corner delivery into the back of the net but was adjudged to have fouled Home United defender Precious Emuejeraye.
The Goan outfit finally took the lead when Raju cut into his right foot and slotted past Jantan with a scorching effort from just outside the box.
Having done a lot of travelling, Home United were struggling to adapt to the hot and humid conditions of Goa and never really looked like coming back into the game. Their best effort for the remainder of the half was a Li shot that went just over the bar.
Churchill Brothers ended the half strongly and wasted a golden opportunity to increase their advantage when Lagos latched on to a poor backpass from Precious but he delayed and his effort was parried away by Jantan.
The I-League and Federation Cup holders made a bright start to the second period despite the withdrawal of Raju due to injury. Churchill’s stand-in skipper was replaced by Balwant and that change strengthened the home side’s attack.
Lagos squandered a good opportunity when Wolfe’s cross found him unmarked in the six-yard box but the Costa Rican’s header was tipped over by Jantan for a corner. From the resulting flagkick, Balwant headed wide despite not having any Home United player close to him.
Mariano Dias’ side were enjoying a great spell as they won a series of corners and from one of those Saran deliveries, Wolfe volleyed wide.
After the hour mark, the tempo of Churchill’s game dropped as they were content to play the waiting game. That didn’t really change the course of the game as Home United struggled to create openings.
Churchill custodian Lalit Thapa was only called into action when Li produced a low cross after a fine solo run. But overall the Indian side were well organised at the back and looked dangerous from the counter attacks.
Jantan did well to save the long range efforts of Saran and Balwant but in the first minute of second half stoppage time Balwant made it 3-1. The India striker produced a great solo run after a quick break as he went past a couple of Home United players before scoring past a helpless Jantan.
Churchill Brothers’ second straight win keeps them in second spot behind Indonesia’s Persipura Jayapura, who defeated Maldives champions New Radiant 3-0 earlier in the day. The two-time Indian champions next face Home United away from home on April 2nd.